AES is a surface analysis technique for chemical analysis (elemental analysis) of samples. The technique utilizes that the auger electrons generated by electron irradiation have a short exit depth from the surface and only provides information from the outermost atomic layers. Normally the first ten atom layers of a samples are investigated. The method is very effective for high resolution investigation of surfaces (0.01 µm to 100 µm) and to detect contaminations.
This technique can be advantageously combined with removing sputtering. In this case, an alternating sputtering and analysis takes place. Through a variety of removals and analyzes, a depth profile of the chemical composition from the surface and deeper into the sample is obtained.
The method is used to determine the chemical composition of e.g. nanoparticles, thin surface films, passivation layers and impurities.